History of the Square Mile
'The City' refers to the financial district of London
It is home to iconic buildings of commerce such as the London Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and the Gherkin. Employees, residents and journalists alike often call the City, the 'Square Mile', because, yes you guessed it fair Financeinterns follower, it is just over one square mile in area. For those metric lovers amongst you, that's approximately 2.90 square kilometres. But that doesn't quite have the same ring to it!
FinanceInterns would now like to tell you a potted history and geography of the City. After all, you don't want to get to interview, tell your interviewer that it is your dream to work in the Square Mile, and then have them stun you into ignorant silence by asking, "Where exactly in London is the City then?"
- The City is located on the northern side of the River Thames. It's current boundaries, marked in yellow on the map, are slightly further out than the original city walls built by the Romans. The only remaining concession to this ancient perimeter is the now bustling main road, London Wall.
- Dragons mark the City's major entrances, such as at Temple Bar, and black bollards bearing the Square Mile's flag, coat of arms and Latin motto, "Domine dirige nos", - "Lord, guide us" - signify the boundaries of the City.
- The western part of the City is comprised by a large amount of legal professionals, where the Inns of Court, located in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas, can be found. Fleet Street is the historic home of the journalistic world whilst the eastern side is dominated by the financial district, with the Bank of England, Paternoster Square's London Stock Exchange and the Gherkin, all iconic presences. Through these industries and many more, the City of London contributes between 2.5%-4% yearly to UK GDP.
- Originally the Square Mile could only be accessed from the south of the River Thames via London Bridge although you can now enter via three more bridges. The Tower of London built by William the Conqueror to ensure against attack sits impressively to the east of the City but is actually outside of the boundaries and part of the Tower Hamlets borough.
- Sir Christopher Wren's Monument, just north of London Bridge, stands as a tribute to the 1666 Great Fire of London which started in a bakery just 61m away in Pudding Lane. The British architect also completed his domed masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral, in 1708 after the Great Fire destroyed the old church.
- Established as a trading port in 50AD by Roman merchants on the River Thames, the City has since expanded rapidly, with a myriad of docks sprouting to the east at the Port of London throughout the 1800s, and latterly the railways and the Tube propelling the growth of London outwards, so that now the 'Square Mile' constitutes just one element of our Capital city.
- The Square Mile is now served by buses, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and River Boat Services. Just 8,000 people live in the City, mainly in the Barbican area, after The Blitz during World War II destroyed many of the residential areas. In place of the rubble more modern, larger-scale developments were built, including construction of the UK's first skyscraper, the 42-storey Natwest Tower. Consequently more than 320,000 people now travel to work in the City.
- The City's newer skyscrapers are: the Gherkin (at 30 St Mary Axe), Broadgate Tower, Heron Tower, Bishopsgate Tower and, the largest - the largest in Europe in fact - opened officially in July 2012, the 'Shard of Glass' at London Bridge station.
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